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In the rap game, flash-in-the-pan artists are called legends before they can legally drive. By those standards, Skatterman is a veteran at only 31, but his is a hard-earned title that comes after years of sweat and heartache. Negotiating the notoriously grimy music business is nearly as dangerous as growing up in the streets of eastside Kansas City, but Skatterman somehow avoided the pitfalls of both, making a name for himself in the process.
Starting as a teen, the syllable spitter knocked out hits with different groups, starting with Southside Rollers in 1999. In high school, Skatterman met rapper Snug Brim, and the two became longtime collaborators. When their 2001 album Worth a Million caught the attention of Tech N9ne and his label Strange Music, the duo signed on with Strange for a successful, seven-year run.
The pair cut ties with Strange Music in 2009 and Skatterman started his own venture, BiggShot Music & Films. He also snagged a deal with Deep Distribution Worldwide, based just outside of Houston, Texas, to release future projects. The new connections mean that Skatterman and Snug Brim have total creative control and independence over their upcoming releases.
Though the rappers' names are conjoined like peanut butter and jelly, Skatterman and Snug Brim are taking advantage of this season of change. Snug Brim hit the books, and is working towards a 15 month certification in music marketing. Meanwhile, Skatterman is pounding out two distinctly personal solo projects.
The Cookbook, a mixtape to be released November 2, 2009, features Kansas City artists including The Popper, Kutt Calhoun, Krizz Kaliko, Chain Gang Parolees, Ron Ron, Big Scoob, and, of course, Snug Brim. It will be released online only, through all major online distributors.
Some songs on the mixtape revisit a theme close to Skatterman's heart: that of fatherhood, and the fathers who are missing in action. To know Skatterman is to understand that his children come first. His own experience of growing up without a father figure when it mattered most -- his teenage years -- is gasoline on the flame beneath his lyrics.
Skatterman also plans to aim rhymes at womanhood. Too many women view sex as a commodity and modesty as a thing of the past. "To see young girls out there who don't value themselves, that's something I have to address: what a real woman is," Skatterman says.
Make no mistake -- it's not all preaching and no partying. "We rap about what we had to do to survive in the streets, to get by, but we don't really counsel the way we could," Skatterman says. "We gotta take some of our experiences and relate them to younger people. Some don't wanna hear it, and that's why make the party songs, the 'let's get drunk, let's get high.' But we gotta sneak the message in."
March 16, 2010, will mark the debut of Skatterman's first solo, studio album, Self Made, featuring Paul Wall, Too $hort, Jim Jones, Bun B, and Tech N9ne.
Skatterman calls the project "pissed-off."
"It's about animosity," Skatterman says. "It's about the people who think they got me where I am, when it was me." Expect the rapper to pull no punches. Given the freedom to speak entirely for himself, Skatterman plans to immortalize on wax his frustrations with the music business, false friends and broken promises. A track called "Loyalty and Betrayal" expresses Skatterman's feelings on former label Strange Music, among other themes.
"A lot of my beats will be rock influenced," Skatterman says, referencing songs like Jay Z's "Death to Autotune," and Nas' "Hip Hop is Dead." Black Oxygen and The Leo Project are two bands with whom Skatterman expects to collaborate. Don't be surprised to see him onstage with a live band on future tours.
Though the sounds are evolving, Skatterman is still the same person he's always been. "Snug is usually the one with the entourage," Skatterman says. "I have a lot of trust issues -- I don't trust anybody. I'm antisocial, so I arrive solo. This is finally my opportunity to do ME."
Trust this: Skatterman's "Self Made" will drop like a sonic blast.